Southgate: Champions League ‘mess’ could screw up England

Burnley FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Gareth Southgate, Manager of England looks on during the Premier League match between Burnley FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on February 23, 2019 in Burnley, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

England manager Gareth Southgate revealed his frustrations over the Champions League schedule “mess” which could hinder his preparations for the upcoming UEFA National League finals.

The Three Lions are one of four teams competing in this summer’s Nations League finals along with hosts Portugal, Netherlands and Switzerland.

England, who are chasing a first piece of silverware in 53 years, will go up against the Netherlands for a semi-final clash on June 6 at Guimaraes.

Although this fixture may well prove to be problematic for Southgate as the Champions League final will take place just five days earlier at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Of all times, it also happens to coincide with four Premier League teams (Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham) all reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in a decade.

Therefore, this could severely hinder Southgate’s preparations if any one of those four teams reaches the final of the Champions League.

“It could be a mess,” said Southgate, according to The Telegraph.

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“Let’s say if two of our teams made it to the Champions League final, then we wouldn’t see them, at best, until the Monday before we play on a Thursday.

“We have been in a semi-final, we qualified [four] months ago and what a great opportunity to win something. And then you don’t actually get the team together?

“And with the emotion of that game [Champions League final], can those players even realistically play on a Thursday night for us? We’ll have to work out all of that out as that goes on.

“They would all need a period to psychologically switch off and we’d have to look at Champions League final players when we got to it.”

13 players from those four teams have been called-up by Southgate for England’s 25-man squad for their two EURO 2020 qualifiers this month.

The Three Lions will first take on the Czech Republic on March 22 at Wembley before travelling to Montenegro three days later during the international break.

England v Italy - International Friendly
LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 27: The England team observe a minutes silence in memory of Jimmy Armfield, Cyrille Regis, and Davide Astori prior to the International friendly between England and Italy at Wembley Stadium on March 27, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)